WASHINGTON - A day before the anniversary of 9/11, President Donald Trump on Tuesday issued an executive order to expand the administration's ability to go after suspected terrorists and their financiers and supporters.
"Today's executive order by President Trump adds further muscle to U.S. counterterrorism efforts," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a briefing to reporters at the White House.
He said Trump's action amends an earlier executive order that former President George W. Bush initially signed after 9/11 by adding clauses to let the State and Treasury departments directly target leaders of suspected terror groups and their affiliates "without having to tie terrorist leaders to specific acts."
Pompeo said the order also more effectively targets individuals and groups participating in terrorist training and provides new authorities to impose sanctions on foreign financial institutions that knowingly do business with suspected terrorists.
Eric Lorber, a former Treasury Department senior adviser, said the new order is a "significant change."
"While most financial institutions would not have done business with designated terrorists even before this new authority, this action makes clear that the U.S. Treasury is willing to take serious steps to punish those financial institutions that do," Lorber said.
Using the new order, Treasury on Tuesday imposed sanctions on more than two dozen individuals and entities from 11 terrorist groups, including the Quds Force, the foreign wing of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, Hamas, the Islamic State, al-Qaida and their affiliates.
The State Department put an al-Qaida-affiliated group in Syria on a list of specially designated global terrorists and designated a dozen suspected leaders of Hezbollah's Jihad Council, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, IS affiliates in West Africa and the Philippines, and the Tehrik-e Taliban in Pakistan.